It feels like the 49ers played a week ago when they took it to the New York Giants on a short week. We didn’t get a chance to go over our weekly overreactions, so let’s do that now. One on each side of the ball.
This is the best defensive line yet for the Niners
We’ve seen flashes of brilliance through the first two weeks from a couple of players, but, on Thursday, the entire defensive line put on a show. Now, facing a backup left side of the line and a rookie center undoubtedly contributed. But great players are supposed to dominate those matchups.
Javon Hargrave put on a show:
Javon Hargrave won a handful of times last night within a second of the ball being snapped. The last clip is my favorite. It looks like a euro step. 300-pound humans should not be able to move like this. pic.twitter.com/FzemnPHR8h— KP (@KP_Show) September 22, 2023
Hargrave made a couple of more plays than what was shown in the clip above. He finished Week 3 with five total pressures and a pair of run stops. Bosa had six pressures, and Arik Armstead added three.
But it was another former first-round pick, Javon Kinlaw, who continued to flash.
One difference between Steve Wilks and DeMeco Ryans early on in the season is that Wilks is using 5 DL on obvious passing downs instead of blitzing a linebacker as the extra rusher.— KP (@KP_Show) September 22, 2023
Happened twice last night. One sack and another pressure.
Watch Kinlaw in the 1st clip. pic.twitter.com/hgOf4waft7
The 49ers coaching staff is confident enough in Kinlaw’s pass rushing ability to throw him in there as the fifth pass rusher, and he has not disappointed.
Kinlaw had four pressures, and continues to look quick off the ball in addition to an impressive bull-rush that he’s used in back-to-back weeks. He only played 19 snaps, but less appears to be more with Kinlaw.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan believes this is the best he’s seen Kinlaw play, thanks to his health:
“Yes, because it’s the healthiest. I go all the way back to his rookie year, right when he started getting going. I felt probably since then the best he was his rookie year right before that Dallas game and when he got his knee in the turf in that Dallas game is when he really never felt right since. This was the first offseason, we’ve saw him feel right to where he was able to get himself in complete football shape and be ready to go for practices before they even started, which was the first time that allowed him to get through practices. So, he got better at football this offseason with training camp and everything. Really happy for him because he is put the work in, and it’s showing up on the film.”
These close-calls from Purdy will cost the offense at the worst possible time
Brock Purdy had a pair of near interceptions against the Giants. On the season, Purdy’s turnover-worthy throw percentage is the 12th-highest in the NFL. He’s sandwiched between Ryan Tannehill and, who else, Jimmy Garoppolo.
It’s important to remember how often Brock was under pressure. New York blitzed him over 80 percent of the time. Purdy’s turnover-worthy throw percentage jumps two full percentage points when he’s under pressure, as it’s the ninth-highest rate in the league, tied with Justin Fields. He’s also only completed 48 percent of his passes under pressure.
I don’t envision another defense blitzing the Niners essentially every play moving forward. You leave yourself susceptible to Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, and George Kittle 1-on-1. Plus, Purdy was without Brandon Aiyuk. One missed tackle, and it’s an explosive passing play, if not a touchdown. The Niners made the Giants pay over and over against by beating the blitz.
Some of that is due to the scheme, but Purdy didn’t panic, nor did crumble under pressure. Let’s not forget, he would have had an additional touchdown had McCaffrey caught that deep pass down the left sideline.
Shanahan came away more impressed after watching Brock:
“After watching the film, I was even more impressed than I felt last night after the game. And we missed a number of blitz pickups where he had some free hitters in his face. I think that always makes it harder with accuracy and stuff because you’re going to get the balls tipped and stuff if you throw it right. So you got to kind of avoid those things and I thought he hung in there, made few mistakes and had a hell of a game.”
One promising sign from Purdy is that, despite being blitzed on most of his dropbacks, he remained aggressive and looked to push the ball down the field when the opportunity presented itself. Higher-variance outcomes aren’t a bad thing when you have the skill players that the 49ers do.